Chapter One: The boy in the woods

Crescent Meadows is a pretty small village, nestled in a valley and surrounded by neighboring towns no one has ever heard of. In fact, to get to the closest place anyone knows of takes at least three hours. And even then it's pretty iffy. The village is relatively dull, nothing of note happening very often. The last big thing to happen was the disappearance of a boy over a decade ago. Nikolas Winters, a fifteen year old that arrived home at 10:30 one night, only to have vanished by the next morning.

The town is split in who thinks it was his family, and who thinks it was someone else, but even that drama has died down in the last six years. The parents, Nora and Robert, have since moved on; having three more children and never mentioning him once. It's relatively suspicious, at least to one local raven-haired boy named Alexander Roland and his best friend Kris Swallows, but no one has tried to arrest them or find incriminating evidence in years. Kris and Alexander tried once when they were eight and seven, respectively, but they came up with nothing.

While the disappearance itself has calmed down, the talk about Nikolas Winters has not. Countless children have claimed to see him in the woods surrounding Widow's Creek, a place where a woman killed herself over fifty years ago when her husband died. They think his ghost haunts the area, killed by the widow's ghost one night when he was sneaking around the wood for thrills without a flashlight. As teenagers often do. According to adults. (But that's bullshit, Alexander and Kris always use a flashlight when going into the woods at night.)

Lifetime local Alexander Roland doesn't believe that, though. While he is a fan of horror movies and all mythology, he knows it is just that; myth. It's fun to pretend when you are little that a ghost is watching you, or prowling your streets to eradicate the land of the nasty children in town, but in the end it's always pretend. Alexander is twenty-one now, one year away from being a licensed mortician, so pretend time is long over. His best friend from birth, Kris Winters, is even engaged and owns his own fucking business with the help of his fiancé Andréa Moore. Sure, he's only twenty-two and she's only eighteen, but she's a whiz with numbers and he knows cars like the back of his hand. Also, it was family owned and handed down from his dad. But, you know, they are pretty awesome and could totally handle owning one themselves if they wanted.

On top of all of their educational and employment success, they have even become homeowners recently. Kris and his fiancé purchased a house with their combined savings, and Alexander purchased one with his savings and some of his father's. One perk to living in the middle of nowhere is cheap houses. Kris and Andréa managed to get a beautiful stone house with two floors and a finished basement; a balcony, three beds, two baths and all for around $100,000. They even made sure it had winding stairs with a banister Kris could slide down. Which he has. Repeatedly.

While their place is an impressive find, it's Alexander's house that takes the cake in terms of a deal. A large stone house as well, his has three rooms, two baths, a finished basement, balcony, and winding stairs with a banister you can slide down. Some things are just essential to all savvy buyers. His also has a beautiful front porch overlooking the large yard for the dog he plans on getting, a loft for an office or something he really hasn't decided what to do with it, and a large extension on the back covered with large windows. It's perfect, and actually cheaper than Kris's. At half the price of his friend's place, Alexander bought the home no one dares live in. The home of the widow.

Not even a mile from his back door is Widow's Creek, along with a little cave all children were banned from going in. Personally, Alexander and Kris think that's where Nora and Robert Winters buried the son they murdered, but that might just be a side-effect from watching too many shows on ID and Lifetime with Andréa…for Andréa. Because him and Kris certainly don't watch them even when she's not around. That would be weird. Especially the Lifetime movies.

Everyone thinks his beautiful new house is haunted, crawling with curses and death. Really, it's befitting of a future undertaker to take a home so surrounded by death, isn't it? It's also wicked fun to scare Andréa with this place. It has only been two days since he moved in and already he and Kris have pranked her at least five times. Hey, no one ever said they were gentlemen 100% of the time. Fun needs to be had as well. He must admit though, that strange things are occurring in and around his new home.

When he first moved in his three cats, (yes that's right he is slowly working his way to being a male version of the crazy cat lady), were tense as soon as the sun went down. In fact, they still relatively are. He has woken to rustling in the bushes, scratching noises from outside, and this nagging feeling that someone is watching him at night. It doesn't weird him out, unlike Andréa who now refuses to visit when the sun goes down. All of these strange things can be explained quite simply; forest animals. They have had free reign of this place for at least a decade, so of course they are going to be fussy.

So he ignores it, and sometimes will toss his scraps outside for the animals to eat. They don't, unless it is something bigger and on a plate, but how was he supposed to know beggars can, indeed, be choosers? He knows this will just make them keep coming around, but since he can't get a dog anytime soon it doesn't much matter. His cats are indoor cats, anyways.

Secretly, or not-so-secretly since Kris figured it out immediately, Alexander hopes one day he will be able to pet these picky animals. Not domesticate them or anything, just pet them every once and a while. But of course this has yet to happen and he has yet to even actually see the animals so it won't happen for a long while, more than likely.

None of that matters tonight though, because he is chilling at Kris and Andréa's house since, as mentioned before, she won't come after dark. They have finally finished unpacking both houses and so tonight they are celebrating with fruity drinks and dancing. Not at a bar, never at a bar. A downside to living in bum-fuck nowhere is the fact all the bars suck in every possible way. It's either full of older people who just want to sit and shoot the breeze, young people listening to rap and practically having sex on the dance floor, or empty bars that no one goes to because they don't even offer the small things that the others do.

"So when are you planning to get laid, Alex?" Kris, an objectively handsome brunette with piercing green eyes and a cocky smile, teases from the other side of the couch, the three of them now sobering up and relaxing before Alexander heads home.

Andréa smiles at the two men lounging on her couch as she tries to straighten out her curly brown hair that is now a mess from the dancing, "Kris, be nice. Alex doesn't need to date and have sex if he doesn't want to."

"You see, Kris, this is why I love your fiancé more than you." Alexander says, grinning at Kris, "She's the angel to your devil."

"Yeah, but at least I'm a sexy devil." Kris brags as Andréa and Alexander go silent for a moment before looking to each other and laughing. "Hey, Alex, you can't laugh. You haven't even dated once."

"Not from lack of offers!" Alexander points out, "I just have better things to do with my time."

"Like look up porn on your computer?" Kris teases, "That's gotta be getting old."

"I don't know, you tell me." Alexander counters and Andréa giggles.

"He has a point, Kris, all the sites he goes on are given to him by you."

Kris shrugs and ruffles Alexander's hair. "You're dad is anxiously awaiting you getting married and having kids."

"I'm twenty-one." Alexander grumbles, "I have more than enough time to ruin my life by getting married."

"Thanks." Kris says and Alexander twitches.

"Oh, but, um, it's obviously not a waste for you two. You've practically been married for ten years. Might as well make it official and give me some free food and cake." Alexander laughs nervously before looking out the window at the full moon, "Oh, have you guys heard the new rumor going around about Widow's Creek?"

"There's more than the 'ghost of Nikolas Winters'?" Kris asks amused, he and Alexander have always kept up with the new rumors since they were little. Nothing fascinated them more than the crazy stories children came up with. Themselves included.

Alexander smirks at his friend and leans in towards him, "Oh yes, my dear Kris, there is so much more." He says, watching his friend's eyes light up as Andréa sinks into his arms in fear. Unlike them, she never liked the rumors, and now that Alexander lives there she likes it even less. His first night she must have called him about ten times until Kris hid the phone.

"Go on…" Kris says, leaning in towards Alexander.

"Well, now they are saying the widow is a witch." Alexander explains, "And their new thing is that she is keeping the ghost of that boy prisoner. Keeping him for his youth."

Kris laughs a little, "Nothing like sucking in that youth, is there Alex?"

"Little else compares!" Alexander jokes back. "Oh! And that's not all! One of the kids even said there's a werewolf around! He says he saw a wolf the other day in town, and not only that, but the wolf looked at him as if it wanted to cheer him up from crying!" He says, laughing so hard he topples over from the couch.

"Awww, that's adorable. Wolves aren't around here, and certainly don't cheer up crying children, he probably just saw a dog." Kris says and Alexander nods, sitting up on the floor.

"I would kill to own that dog."

"I know you would, buddy, but try not to murder anyone. Two murderers in this town is enough."

Andréa sighs at her fiancés words, "Kris, Alex, his parents didn't kill him. It has been ten years, when are you going to accept this?"

"Maybe not," Alexander concedes as he stand up and grabs his hoodie and keys, "But they are guilty of something. We just know it."

Kris nods, "And one day we will find that something out."

Alexander grins at him, "Damn right we will. Not today, though, I must get home now. Four in the morning is as late as I can stay out without the cats starting a mutiny." The three of them say their goodbyes, Andréa giving him a big hug while Kris slips in a platonic-bro-grope before he leaves.

He's pretty sober now, and they don't live far away from each other, about twenty minutes for a normal person and twelve for Alexander. They share a highway that winds its way through woods and over rivers. Passing these things, Alexander grows drowsy and speeds up until he hits a sharp turn and notices an animal's eyes in the nearby brush. He quickly slams on his breaks, after making sure no one is behind him, and comes to a stop as a large tan dog with tan fur runs out from the trees. It stands there, in front of the car, staring at Alexander as the boy gawks.

"Jesus christ! What the actual fuck?" Alexander whispers to himself, watching the dog's ears twitch, as if they heard his words. It looks like it understands, like it's listening. "G-get out of the road, you idiot!" He yells, pointing to the woods across the road. "Hurry up before someone else comes!"

The dog, which Alexander is assuming is the one that kid saw and thought was an empathetic wolf, looks to him as if he understands before he looks across the road and runs. It's pretty cool, to be honest, but Alexander doesn't have time to dick around with animals; not ones that aren't his at least. Finally he gets home and is immediately bombarded by his cats. Yes, he knows its borderline pathetic for a young man to live alone with cats and be so attached to them. Yes, Kris makes fun of it. Yes, Kris is totally just being a jealous little bitch because fuck him they are adorable.

He smiles at his cats and stumbles to his bed, landing face-first into the pillow, feeling the weight of his oldest cat curling up on his back and sleeping as soon as he's down. Soon enough, Alexander follows suit. Falling asleep yet again with the strange feeling of being watched.

The next day, Saturday, is relatively dull since Kris and Andréa are visiting her family. He spends it cleaning his house. Thankfully, despite the boring day, that night is when things get interesting. While curled up on his couch totally not watching the chick flick Letters to Juliet and crying at the scene where they leave each other, he hears a noise. He ignores it initially until there's a scream, a human scream filled with pain and fear. It jolts him out of his blanket and he jumps off the couch, running to his sliding door that faces the woods so he can look out. There's nothing.

Giving up he heads back to the couch, hearing a loud scream again and some rustling in the woods. The woods right behind his house. The woods he owns, that if someone gets hurt in they can sue him. Oh fuck no! Running to his closet he pulls out his red hoodie and skull cap before heading out to the woods. It's a full moon so he doesn't need a flashlight, he does, however, grab a shovel in case he needs to fight someone off. Safety first.

He walks into the woods and immediately hears something ahead of him, seeing a black blur running past him. Alexander quickly covers his mouth, trying not to scream as he runs deeper into the woods. Being a man of logic and not at all prone to fantastical fears, he doesn't worry about the possibility of a murderer or a ghost. Or zombies. (Has anyone even made the rumor of zombies yet?) Nope, not at all. Obviously an animal has attacked some poor person. Some poor, injured, pissed off and capable of suing person. …Is it wrong he's wishing for zombies right about now?

Darting through the woods he makes sure to look everywhere, searching for the intruder while clutching to the shovel close. Suddenly he hears a strangled noise and runs into the same wolf from yesterday, literally, dropping his shovel as soon as he sees the now bloody creature. They stare each other down, Alexander now catching his breath as he tries to slowly back up to his shovel. Obviously this wolf tried to kill someone on his land.

"While I appreciate you keeping out intruders…perhaps you should just, you know, leave?" Alexander asks and the wolf tilts his head, staring at the man, "Yes, you are adorable. However, I need you to get the fuck out of here. Like. Now." The wolf moves closer, his ears lowering as he whimpers in pain. "Oh…you…you are the one who got hurt? But…I heard a human scream…I think?" He mumbles, leaning down and placing a shaking hand on the wolf's head, feeling blood caked in it. "Oh man, you poor thing."

The wolf's eyes slide closed as a strange light surrounds him. Alexander stares in awe as beneath his hand soft fur turns to smooth skin and bones contort from a canine to a human. Soon, collapsing into the man's lap is a much larger, completely naked, man covered in blood and bruises.

"JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!" Alexander screams in a voice he would certainly not call feminine, or a shriek. No, definitely not. "Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod!" He begins hyperventilating, staring down at the wolf-turned-ridiculously-sexy-man in his lap. "This isn't happening. Nope. Nope nope nope nope!" Reaching into his pocket he pulls out his phone, "I should call Kris, I should definitely call Kris."

"No…others…" The voice chokes out, looking up at Alexander with a pained expression before passing out again.

"…No?" Alexander repeats, "What the fuck do you mean 'no'? Hey! Hey get your ass up! If you can say no to Kris you can wake up to walk over to my place, damnit!" He yells, grabbing the man's shaggy yet oh-so-soft hair and shaking his head, "Get up! Get up! Get up!"

The man remains still, his breathing almost nonexistent. Giving in, Alexander picks him up awkwardly, throwing his stupidly muscular arm over his own scrawny shoulder. He's heavy, insanely heavy, and as soon as they reach the house they collapse on the floor.

"He's so fucking heavy. Those muscles must weigh a million pounds." Alexander groans as he and the unconscious man lie beside each other on the floor. "You owe me big time for this when you get up." He looks over to the unconscious man in exhaustion as his cat comes over and bops the stranger on the face. "Hey, don't piss him off, he's a wolfy-dude thing." His cat stares at him curiously as he grabs the man's arms and drags him on the hardwood floor into the guest room. Once they get to the bed and lifts him up and plops him down before going and grabbing his first-aid kit from the bathroom.

He cleans the man's wounds and bandages them before throwing a pair of his own boxers on the unconscious man. After a few completely mature and manly shrieks and curses, Alexander goes into his own room with his cats and moves his dresser against the door. Just in case wolfy-dude decides to attack him or something.

Why couldn't it have just been a ghost?

A/N: Thank you for looking at my story! I hope it's at least somewhat interesting.